Author Topic: How do you like your R/O system?  (Read 842 times)

Offline Joe_Beer

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How do you like your R/O system?
« on: November 07, 2021, 06:39:46 am »
I've been tossing around the idea of getting an R/O system. My tap water is quite hard (HCO3=457,CACO3=452) and when I've run it through a carbon filter and made beer, the results, for IPA anyway, aren't that great. I've been using distilled water for awhile now and quite pleased. My local grocer is having issues keeping distilled water stocked however. The shelf is missing all but a few gallons for the past month. Hard to tell how long it might last.

I've been looking at the Waterdrop 600GPD (update: I have the wrong number here.  Model number is actually WD-G2P600-W) since it boasts a 2:1 drain ratio, which is nice, but the replacement filter cost is over $100 bucks which isn't so nice. I think there are actually two filters on this unit and from what I've been able to find, the second one is ~$30 so there's a substantial cost to running this.

If I use this just for brewing, and the other needs (netti pot) we use distilled for, the filters may last considerably longer than a standard installation. I brew maybe once or twice a month so leaving the system sit for a week or so may introduce other longevity concerns. Still need to look into that.

I poked around the forum a bit here and found a discussion with Martin from 2018 https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=32353 where another person mentioned the iSpring RCC7P was a favorable unit. Being a few years old though, things may have changed. Also sounds like feedwater from the R/O system should come from the output side of my water softener to cut the hardness. Maybe add a carbon filter too.

Are ya'll still liking your iSpring or other units? Any suggestions other than filter cost and drain ratio if you had to buy one again?

« Last Edit: November 08, 2021, 08:46:43 am by Joe_Beer »

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: How do you like your R/O system?
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2021, 07:39:25 am »
You need a series of filters before the RO membrane. A Sediment/particulate filter is first. Then an activated carbon block. The carbon block will take out clorine/chloramine which will eat holes in the RO membrane if not removed before it.

600 GPD is great, so is the 2:1 reject ratio. I'm not familiar with that unit, but as you said, you're paying for that performance.
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Offline Bob357

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Re: How do you like your R/O system?
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2021, 08:14:25 am »
Actual rejection is dependent on the makeup of your water, as well as temperature, pressure, pH and other factors, so the advertised ratio can vary quite a bit. Our water has 550+ ppm TDS, and rejection can be as high as 6:1. High mineral content also means your filters will need to be replaced more often.

I buy RO water from vending machines at local stores for ~$ .40/gallon. That's ~$3.20 per 5.25 gallon batch of beer. I doubt I could buy a good system and maintain it for that, especially considering the cost of rejected water. YMMV, depending on your water, but worth looking into before buying a system.
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Offline BrewBama

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How do you like your R/O system?
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2021, 08:18:39 am »
I also use distilled and have issues at the grocery. I read the label of ‘purified water’ which is RO. They never seem to run out of ‘purified water’ so I consider it a suitable substitute.

I also researched RO systems but the wastewater was a huge turnoff for me. I realize cleaning/washing anything in water (clothes, dishes, a car,…) all create waste water but RO system waste just seems high to me. 2:1 is great.

I have even explored a distillation unit. …but being from the foothills of the Appalachians and owning a ‘still might get me a little more attention than I care for.

Whatever you settle on please report back. I have been on the fence for years.



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« Last Edit: November 07, 2021, 08:21:35 am by BrewBama »

Offline Buckeye Hydro

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Re: How do you like your R/O system?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2021, 09:18:11 am »
I've been tossing around the idea of getting an R/O system. My tap water is quite hard (HCO3=457,CACO3=452)

First, realize that you can change the ratio of concentrate to permeate on any RO System, at very little expense, to be whatever you want it to be.

Second - realize that you may NOT want to limit the concentrate flow if you want to get a reasonable life span out of your RO membrane.

You mention you have very hard water.  That said, you'll want MORE concentrate flow so that you don't plug your membrane with scale.  There are no "magic membranes" out there that avoid the issue of scaling.  But if you have soft, or softened water, you can reduce the concentrate flow to around a 2:1 and still get a reasonable life span out of a very low flow residential RO membrane.

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Offline HopDen

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Re: How do you like your R/O system?
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2021, 10:51:20 am »
This is what I have been using for 4/5 years. 5 stages may be overkill but it is what it is. I do not regret the purchase at all. It has definitely improved my beers. Keep in mind that you will want to clean the stages after 5-10 uses but YMMV depending on your water.
https://www.amazon.com/Olympia-Water-Systems-OROS-50-Filtration/dp/B06XD2KN2G/ref=sr_1_6?crid=2H05GA0FFAZHA&keywords=olympia+water+systems&qid=1639244702&sprefix=olympia+water+%2Caps%2C189&sr=8-6

Offline Joe_Beer

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Re: How do you like your R/O system?
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2021, 04:40:57 am »
Thanks everyone for your insight on this. Much appreciated! I'm starting with a whole house spin down, sediment and carbon filter. I really only need the spin down as we have to clean out the sand and other junk on the faucets a couple times a year but figured as long as I'm cutting up plumbing, I may as well add a couple of these. It might improve the taste of the water in a few other locations of the house. Should help with longevity of the R/O filter if I do go with one.  Not sure how it will affect the water pressure but we'll see.

First, realize that you can change the ratio of concentrate to permeate on any RO System, at very little expense, to be whatever you want it to be.

By "concentrate" I think you mean the "water you want to filter", correct?

You mention you have very hard water.  That said, you'll want MORE concentrate flow so that you don't plug your membrane with scale.  There are no "magic membranes" out there that avoid the issue of scaling.  But if you have soft, or softened water, you can reduce the concentrate flow to around a 2:1 and still get a reasonable life span out of a very low flow residential RO membrane.

So, if I did go with R/O that should be connected downstream from the output of the water softener?

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: How do you like your R/O system?
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2021, 04:49:58 am »
Mine is installed post softener, because my well water is hard.  I get TDS in the teens (post RO system) and rarely need to swap out filters.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: How do you like your R/O system?
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2021, 08:29:27 am »
Don't get taken in by the promise of instant RO by buying a system with high output.  Modest (and far less expensive) RO systems that output 50 to 75 gpd are a wise choice...unless you're going to actually be using more RO water than that per day.  A modest system with some form of RO storage is a wise way to go. 

As mentioned above, getting a RO system with many stages is probably not necessary.  In general, 2 stages are required for someone on their own supply well: sediment filter and RO membrane.  Those on a municipal water system need to add another stage: carbon filter.  Adding the 4th or 5th stages is not typically necessary for brewery use. 

People with fairly hard water supply will be well served by adding a water softener to the 'stages' in their RO system.  That helps avoid the premature scaling of their RO membrane and its need for replacement. 

I strongly recommend avoiding any RO system that requires proprietary filters and membranes.  The standard 10- or 20-inch filter cartridges and the '1812' membrane cartridges are industry-standard items and their cost is reasonable.  That can't be said for proprietary systems. 

For anyone contemplating the purchase and operation of their own RO system, I recommend that you read the "Pure Water" articles in Zymurgy that provide great insight into what you need or don't need for your system and how to operate and maintain it.  AHA members have access to the eZymurgy archive to view those articles and other interesting content.  I believe that you can now become a AHA member for a monthly fee and that would give you quick access for the time you want.  AHA membership has its advantages! 
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Offline Joe_Beer

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Re: How do you like your R/O system?
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2021, 03:24:37 pm »
Don't get taken in by the promise of instant RO by buying a system with high output.  Modest (and far less expensive) RO systems that output 50 to 75 gpd are a wise choice...unless you're going to actually be using more RO water than that per day.  A modest system with some form of RO storage is a wise way to go. 

Thanks Martin. I'm thinking about the Waterdrop WD-G2P600-W mainly because it boasts a 2:1 pure/waste ratio. I don't know if they are gaming the numbers to make that statement however. We're all aware of the "*" prefixes and fine print around product blurbs.

Does a 2:1 ratio seem attainable or is this simply not realistic? I don't mind waiting a day or two to fill an 8 gallon container with a smaller/different unit but would prefer not dumping 2x or 3x gallons of waste to get it. That's the only reason I'm looking at this unit in particular.

For anyone contemplating the purchase and operation of their own RO system, I recommend that you read the "Pure Water" articles in Zymurgy that provide great insight into what you need or don't need for your system and how to operate and maintain it.

I've read through both articles (Thank you for the great info!) and will need to go over them again.  A lot of good info there. I like the mention about mineral scale removal and the acid solution. I've got 452 for cac03 in my tap water and hardly a clear glass in the house so pretty sure I'd need to do that often.

Offline fredthecat

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Re: How do you like your R/O system?
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2021, 03:48:53 pm »
I've been tossing around the idea of getting an R/O system. My tap water is quite hard (HCO3=457,CACO3=452) and when I've run it through a carbon filter and made beer, the results, for IPA anyway, aren't that great. I've been using distilled water for awhile now and quite pleased. My local grocer is having issues keeping distilled water stocked however. The shelf is missing all but a few gallons for the past month. Hard to tell how long it might last.

I've been looking at the Waterdrop 600GPD (update: I have the wrong number here.  Model number is actually WD-G2P600-W) since it boasts a 2:1 drain ratio, which is nice, but the replacement filter cost is over $100 bucks which isn't so nice. I think there are actually two filters on this unit and from what I've been able to find, the second one is ~$30 so there's a substantial cost to running this.

If I use this just for brewing, and the other needs (netti pot) we use distilled for, the filters may last considerably longer than a standard installation. I brew maybe once or twice a month so leaving the system sit for a week or so may introduce other longevity concerns. Still need to look into that.

I poked around the forum a bit here and found a discussion with Martin from 2018 https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=32353 where another person mentioned the iSpring RCC7P was a favorable unit. Being a few years old though, things may have changed. Also sounds like feedwater from the R/O system should come from the output side of my water softener to cut the hardness. Maybe add a carbon filter too.

Are ya'll still liking your iSpring or other units? Any suggestions other than filter cost and drain ratio if you had to buy one again?

totally unrelated, but i moved back to ontario and the shower water feels so annoying compared to where i lived before. its not extremely hard here, but it is harder than where i was, or the mineral composition is different and its just awful. i still notice it years later.

so, that is a consideration - overall quality of water enjoyment.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: How do you like your R/O system?
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2021, 06:33:55 pm »
Does a 2:1 ratio seem attainable or is this simply not realistic? I don't mind waiting a day or two to fill an 8 gallon container with a smaller/different unit but would prefer not dumping 2x or 3x gallons of waste to get it. That's the only reason I'm looking at this unit in particular.

The waste ratio has little to do with the equipment.  It has more to do with the incoming water quality and how much water has to be flushed across the membrane to limit or avoid scaling up the membrane.  The typical RO system has a fixed flushing rate based on some 'bad' incoming water quality.  Just because your example RO system provider says they can produce RO with only 2x wastewater, doesn't make it so.  But if the incoming water happened to be softened via an ion-exchange softener, then you can confidently plan and implement very low wastewater rates. 

Please don't believe that promise of low wasting rate.  It's either based on great incoming water quality or it's based on a lie.  It's time for everyone dealing with the typical water equipment provider to understand that they typically aren't very knowledgeable about water issues and treatment and they are VERY interested in selling you EVERYTHING they can.  There is a reputable equipment provider that has replied to this thread, you would be wise to consult them.
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Online Bel Air Brewing

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Re: How do you like your R/O system?
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2021, 04:44:38 pm »
We love ours, built in under-counter, with a faucet dispenser at the sink. We change all 3 filter cartridges every 12 months.
There is very little if any waste.
And I have used this R/O water for beer, many times.
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Offline chinaski

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Re: How do you like your R/O system?
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2021, 04:32:39 pm »
We love ours, built in under-counter, with a faucet dispenser at the sink. We change all 3 filter cartridges every 12 months.
There is very little if any waste.
And I have used this R/O water for beer, many times.
How can there be little if any waste if you need to have the RO filter in the first place?

Offline MDL

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Re: How do you like your R/O system?
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2021, 08:44:52 am »
One may want to consider omitting the RO storage tank when implementing a RO system for brewing water. The unit will run more efficiently without the back pressure on the permeate side. You could collect the water in a bucket or kettle or rig it up to a mechanical float valve even.

In my setup I collect 30 gallons of RO water the day before a brew into my kettle. I use a simple RO consisting of a 5 micron sediment filter followed by two 100 gallon per day membranes in parallel. With my real world water conditions and temperature the unit produces about 5 GPM of permeate. There is an Aquatec diaphragm booster pump ahead of the RO to boost incoming pressure to 80 psi.

My well water is treated with ozone to remove the iron, manganese and H2S before the RO system. It is not softened, has TDS of about 300 and temperature of around 50 degrees depending on the time of year.

I replace the pre filter annually. I am still on the original membranes from 2011. Permeate is 4 ppm

The Booster pump is an Aquatec 8800.

You could put together a customized setup depending on your intended use. Brewing water or brewing and drinking water. A place like Buckeye Hydro could help with that and could be a better option than purchasing a prefab drinking water system.

I didn’t purchase my components from Buckeye and am not affiliated. I purchased mine from my local hydro store and assembled myself.







« Last Edit: December 18, 2021, 09:06:56 am by MDL »